Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

Cell Phone SIM Swap Scam

Just when we thought we were safe by setting up two-step authentication on our accounts, hackers are getting smarter and scamming us in a different way. The new scam is when a hacker calls your cell phone service provider, pretends to be you and says that you lost your phone and need to activate the new one. They do this by having enough personal information about you to convince the cell phone provider that it is really you. Once they have this information all your texts, phone calls and anything else you receive on your phone will be transferred to their phone and yours will be deactivated. So, all those text messages you receive when logging into your accounts will go directly to the new phone and right into the hacker's hands. This is scary stuff. Please read the following article with the detailed information on the scam and ways to protect yourself from having it happen to you.

How To Prevent and Respond to a SIM Swap Scan

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What Happens to Your Social Media & Online Accounts When You Die?

Until very recently there was really no estate planning direction on how your social media and online accounts should be handled after you pass away. If you're like me, I have multiple social media accounts and have opted to go paperless on every account that I can. Though this is the most convenient option for us now it may pose a problem when you pass away and there are no instructions or information left for your loved ones. I recently listened to a webinar hosted by TLD Law that gave out some great information and tips on how these digital assets should be handled.

First, we'll talk about what digital assets really are. Digital assets are considered any electronic record that is stored in an online account, not the online account itself. For example: You have a Gmail account, the Gmail account and address are not considered a digital asset. The digital assets would be any emails, pictures or other files in the email account.

Here are some other examples of digital assets:

Airplane Miles, Social Media, Software Licenses, Websites, Cryptocurrencies and any other digital file stored with in an online account or your computer; think Shutterfly, iCloud etc.

One quick way to ensure that your digital assets are taken care of after you die is buy completing a Power of Attorney specifically for those digital assets. The Power of Attorney should have a digital assets provision in it.

If you have a trust in place you should check it to see if there is a provision for digital assets. If the trust document was drafted before 2017 it likely does not, and you will need to amend the trust accordingly.

In the trust and power of attorney documents you should give clear instructions on how you would like your digital assets taken care of when you pass away.

By law, anyone you give this responsibility to will have a fiduciary duty of care, loyalty and confidentiality to uphold. What that means is that they are not allowed to share any personal information that has not already been made public.

A lot of online sites have either legacy contact information or inactive user account manager options that you can set up in your account profiles. Whoever you designate will be contacted after a certain length of time, usually chosen by you, where your account has not been active.

It's important to note that by giving some power of attorney over your digital assets, the companies that hold that information are not legally required to give them access to the online accounts. It is very important to compile an ongoing list of all of your online accounts as well as passwords and keep it in a safe place that your trusted person knows about. Downloading this information onto a hard drive and keeping it in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe are a couple of options. If you simply just give someone this information without the proper legal documents their attempt to log into your account may be misconstrued as computer fraud and may be prosecuted. Especially in the case of elderly parents or grandparents, because there is a heightened awareness of elderly abuse.

There is a ton more information and tips online. I highly encourage you to do some research and get these provisions in place.

 

 

 

 

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Insurance Coverage Check Up

Watching the news coverage of Hurricane Dorian this past week as well as the fire in Murrieta, had us sympathizing for the people in their path, what they were going through and how their lives would be affected by these natural disasters. Naturally, this also made us start thinking of our own preparedness for a natural disaster. We recently posted about creating your own emergency kits for your homes. Another thing to think of is what happens to your home and other belongings that were damaged during one of these incidents. It's important to periodically review your insurance policies to make sure that your coverage is sufficient. Our lives are constantly changing, which means you could have recently done a remodel to your home or purchased a brand-new computer. Will your homeowner's insurance cover these new and improved items? One way to make sure is to keep an updated inventory of your personal belongings as well as any documentation for upgrades you have done to your home. Without this documentation your homeowner's insurance may just pay you the basic value of these items and you will not recoup the increased value. One tip I read about, and which seems like the easiest way to inventory your property is to walk around your home with your phone and take a video of each room with its contents. In the video you would show the items of most value and explain what they are. Not only will this prove the items existence, but most phones are hooked up to a cloud-based recovery system. So even if you lose or damage your phone in a disaster the video will be saved to the cloud. Obviously, you would not want to share this video with anyone and should keep it private. No posting to social media sites like FB or Instagram as this could make you a target for break ins. Even if you "know" everyone on your friend lists. We still recommend keeping physical documentation either in a fireproof box, safety deposit box or a flash drive but it never hurts to have more proof. You may also want to look into additional flood and earthquake policies.  Maybe you decided to skip these policies when you first bought your home because they can be pricey, or you went with a higher deductible. Now would be the time to get a check up to see if these supplemental policies are right for you.

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Equifax Breach... Were You Affected?

A settlement has been announced in the 2017 Equifax breach. Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million in compensation to the victims of this breach. If you were affected, there are three different settlement options. The 1st option is to sign up for free credit monitoring service. If you already have credit monitoring service, you can choose to be paid $125 for the value of the credit monitoring. Option 2 is to be reimbursed for any of the time you spent trying to clear up any issues that happened to your credit because of the breach. The 3rd option is to be reimbursed for any damages you incurred as a result of the breach. For the latter two options you will need to submit additional documentation to support your claim. It is really easy to check to see if you were affected by the breach and submit your claim. It took each of us in the office about 3 minutes to complete the whole process. Simply click on this link and follow the steps provided.

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Keeping You Updated

As you know, all of us at Asset Planning put our clients personal and financial well-being as our number one priority. One of the ways we do this is by keeping you updated on any potential dangers when it comes to fraud and scams that we hear about. While doing research on a scam we were alerted to, I came across the Federal Trade Commission website. Along with many other self-help topics, there are two sections dedicated to privacy, identity & online security and scams. There you can find useful tips and recent information on scams going around. I found this website to be a useful tool in my research and I was even able to sign up for email notifications to alert me to any new scams they have been notified of. If you are interested in keeping up with the latest news on these sorts of things click on this link and sign up for email updates.

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Do You Have a Plan for Your Aging Parents?

It’s a known fact that people are living a lot longer than they used to. Do you have a plan in place for your aging parents? I came across an interesting article in Financial Advisor Magazine about the toll being a care taker for your aging parents can put on you financially and emotionally. If you are facing the prospect of being the caretaker for your parents as they get older, the time is now to start having the important conversations with your family about getting an action plan together for their care.

Click here to read the full article

 

 

 

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More Scam Alerts and Security Tips

We've come across a few more scams that we thought you should be aware of...

The first one is a scam where an unknown number will call you and only ring once or twice and not leave a message. Your first instinct is to call them back to see who it is. It turns out that it is a 900 number you are calling back and you get charged for the call. The phone companies are not reversing the charges for these calls so be weary on calling back unusual numbers. My thought is if it's important whoever is calling you will leave a message.

Next, a client alerted us to a company that is offering free cell phones to seniors with low income. They ask for all your personal information such as social security numbers, drivers license numbers, etc. There are some legit companies out there that do offer these programs but there are also scammers out there trying to steal identities. Before giving out your personal information be sure to do your research on the company or person who you're dealing with. You don't want your information getting in the wrong hands.

Lastly, stay vigilant with people calling or emailing you and asking for your personal information. Legitimate companies will never call or email you to get passwords or social security numbers. One way to tell in an email is by looking at the grammar. More times than not on a scam email the grammar will be wrong. Also, NEVER click on a link sent to you in an email from someone you don't recognize. If you are in doubt about whether a request for information is legitimate or not, always call the company back on a number that you have looked up yourself, so you know that you're actually calling the right place.

If you have any scams that you would like to tell us about, so we can alert our clients, please email me at melani@assetplanninginc.com

We hope you all have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Melani

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Internet Security

Padlock

When browsing the internet and logging into certain sites, it's become almost habit to look for the little green padlock to make sure that you are entering a secure website. well, unfortunately a lot of phishing sites have started using the green padlock as well to try to fool the average user. These phishing sites try to copy a legitimate site, pose as an online retailer or other trusted site. Their goal is for you to trust them and enter your personal information, so it can be sold on the dark web and used for identity theft. It's important to always remember to look for the https:// displayed in front of the web address. The padlock by itself means nothing.

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Jury Scam in Orange County

Apparently there is a new scam going around in Orange County. Imposters are calling and claiming that they are from the Orange County Superior Court. They are claiming that you will be facing prosecution for missing jury duty and attempt to obtain your social security number. Read here for more details

The bottom line is, never ever under any circumstances give out any of your personal information such as social security number, birth date etc. to anyone who is calling you that you do not recognize. No reputable company is going to call you out of the blue to ask you for this information. Scammers will stop at nothing to get this valuable information from you so be vigilent in protecting it.

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Informed Delivery by the United States Postal Service

I just found out about a very useful service that the United States Postal Service offers and one that Sandy has been using for a while. It is called Informed Delivery and it sends you a daily email with an image of the mail you will be receiving each day. It is completely free and easy to sign up. I went to USPS.com, logged into my existing account (If you do not already have an account you will need to create one) and under user preferences you can opt into the service. They do verify your identity so no one else can sign up to see your mail. They ask specific questions about you, where you have previously lived etc. This is a great way to know if anything ever goes missing from your mailbox. They even have a link in your daily email to report a piece of missing mail.

Here's an example of my dashboard on the site.

USPS Informed Delivery Dashboard

Signing up for this service is another way to stay one step ahead of identity theft that is so prevalant right now.

Have a great Holiday Weekend!

Melani

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